Arsenal Ace Explains Why He Pledged International Allegiance to Switzerland Over Albania & Kosovo

Tom Power
90Min

​Granit Xhaka has explained why he opted to play for Switzerland on the international stage rather than the birthplace of his parents.

Xhaka was eligible to play for the Swiss, Albanian and Kosovan national sides due to his ties to all three countries, and decided to ply his trade internationally with the first of those three options.

Speaking to ​Arsenal's official website, the Gunners midfielder revealed that his decision to play for Switzerland was largely down to the way in which his adopted nation had helped his parents overcome hardship and settle quickly into life in a new country.

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He said: “Switzerland is my home, it’s where I was born and grew up, but I will never forget my parents’ roots. 

“My blood is Albanian and nobody can take that away from me. My heart is 50:50 - I can’t say I’m more of one than the other. I have two homes, Switzerland and Kosovo, and that’s how it will always stay.

“I’m grateful for what Switzerland has done for my parents, for us. You can’t forget that. As I said, I was born and grew up there. I went to school there, I took my first steps there - both in football and in my private life. It will always be my home.”

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Xhaka's brother, Taulant, chose to play for Albania instead and the siblings' rivalry came to a head last summer when the two nations faced off at the Euro 2016 Championship in France.

Despite turning his back on Albania, Xhaka is not the only footballing star, who plays for Switzerland, to have chosen La Nati over other nations.

Other footballers such as Gelson Fernandez, Johan Djourou and Xherdan Shaqiri have also pledged their allegiance to Switzerland due to their own dual-nationalities, and Xhaka added that the senior Swiss national side got on so well because they respected each other's backgrounds, familial ties and roots.

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He added: “I’m really proud. What’s important is that we all get on, that we all respect each other.

“In the Swiss national team we have players with links to many different countries, maybe people who don’t just have Swiss roots. That’s why it’s very important that we respect each other, and that really works well in our team.”

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